Unions, Cuomo push back against Janus decision and Kavanaugh nomination

Stephon Johnson | 7/26/2018, 11:04 a.m.
New York State’s labor unions and governor have declared their opposition to the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent labor ruling.
Judge Brett Kavanaugh U.S. Courts photo

New York State’s labor unions and governor have declared their opposition to the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent labor ruling.

New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo directed the State Department of Labor to issue guidance on the U.S. Supreme Court’s Janus v. AFSCME Council 31 decision. The Labor Department is posting the information publicly online and sending it to all public employers. In a statement, the governor denounced the 5-4 decision.

“The Supreme Court’s Janus decision is a direct attack on organized labor, and as long as I am governor of New York, we will do everything in our power to protect union members and support the labor movement,” Cuomo said in a statement. “This guidance will inform employers of their obligations and employees of their rights so they know they remain protected under state law.”

Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court voted 5-4 that non-public sector union members are not compelled to pay dues to the union that collectively bargains for them. The Court also ruled that union fees must be opt-in for employees and not opt-out. That makes it harder for unions to collect fees and effectively turned public sector employment into a “right to work” venture. Non-union members were already able to opt-out of fees used to finance political organizing. With the court’s decision, they can now opt-out of fees used to pay to represent workers.

It was announced this week that Mark Janus, a child support specialist at the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services and the plaintiff in the Supreme Court case, left his state job to join conservative think tank the Illinois Policy Institute and the Liberty Justice Center as a senior fellow next month. He’s slated to tour the country giving speeches about the case.

After the ruling, Cuomo signed an executive order protecting union members from harassment and intimidation. TWU Local 100 President Tony Utano backed Cuomo’s post-decision actions.

“The governor’s decisive action today fully underscores his commitment to collective bargaining, a strong labor movement and a viable, sustainable middle class in New York State.  The Supreme Court’s decision on Janus v. AFSCME has unleashed a wave of union busting funded by the ‘right’s’ billionaire class.  Gov. Cuomo is standing tall against this assault, and we in TWU Local 100 and the labor movement deeply appreciate his support.”

The Janus v. AFSCME Council 31 decision coupled with the recent nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court has led union leaders such as SEIU International President Mary Kay Henry to denounce the judge, President Donald Trump and the GOP in general.

“Working people know all too well how important the Supreme Court is to upholding key American values,” said Henry in a statement. “In just the last few weeks, it attacked the rights of working people in the Janus case and enshrined discrimination against immigrants by ruling in favor of the Muslim ban. Judge Kavanaugh is a narrow-minded elitist who would further rig our economy and democracy against working Americans.”